• Jackets and coats

    Little red Closet Core Kelly Anorak

    Today involved a giant breakfast, a bit of hammering, and a nice walk. I’m showing off my finished Kelly Anorak which I completed right before we headed out the door. Yes, I might look like little red riding hood but I stayed dry and warm thanks to my new jacket.

    This jacket has been a long time coming. I started it for the fabulous Anorak August Sew-along the brainchild of Sheffield Sewcial but after losing my sew-jo (thanks Covid) I struggled to feel motivated to finish until now. I was looking for a lightweight jacket to layer over jumpers for casual walks or errands when I didn’t want to wear my wool coats or Barbour jacket. I also needed a hood as NONE of my outerwear has one! The Closet Core Kelly seemed like a good choice.

    Somehow I made a toile straight away in some horrendous 90s Laura Ashley-esque waxed cotton from my stash. Some people thought this was my actual fabric! Fit-wise I started with size 8 around the upper body and 10 around the bottom. After a try on I had to remove 2″ from the length, add 2cm to the centre back and hood and add 1cm to each side seams around the hips. Maybe the hood is a little roomy now but it’s fine. Annoyingly I’ve put on a fair bit of weight since I started making this so the fit in the body isn’t ideal but I’m sure it will be better again soon.

    My pattern came from the fabulous Bobbins and Bolts in Harrogate. I met owner Gemma at The Dressmakers Ball and was so pleased to learn about her bricks and mortar shop. I really hope it survives the Covid absence of shoppers. I bought this and the Kew dress pattern which should get made next Summer.

    I know there’s been a lot of chatter about the pattern recently, especially the lining extension with people not thinking the instructions and construction of the hood works. Closet Core (formerly Closet Case) recently reissued the lining pattern. I didn’t use it so I can’t really comment on whether it’s fixed or not I’m afraid.

    My waterproof fabric was a fantastic bargain from Fabworks online. You know I love a trip to their Mill as the team are a real hoot! Can’t wait to go back again soon. This is called Dark Rust showerproof nylon and cotton, and it was £18 for 3m. My coordinating zip was from eBay. The BIGGEST thing I hate about my Barbour jacket is the double ended zipper which takes me about 5 goes every time so I’m super pleased with how this one came together.

    After reading the post on Closet Core about underlining the jacket in fleece (instead of lining) I thought that would suit me best and chose a navy and white spotty flannel from eBay. The red top-stitching and my red satin bias inside looks nice together and the husband said it reminds him of Joules which I think is quite a nice “boy compliment”.

    Now for some real talk. I kind of hated every step of making this jacket. I counted, and I’ve made 7 wool coats/jackets, 2 Chanel style jackets and 1 mac and this is the worst piece of outerwear of the lot.

    The construction is straightforward if you’ve made coats before but the fabric was so thick in places topstitching was a challenge to keep even and flat felling the seams was more fiddly than normal. Plus the spray glue I used to secure my flannel to the outer was utterly useless so everything kept shifting.

    I think the lack of sew-jo didn’t help as I dreaded doing anything on it. I stabbed every finger, had to resew most seams, and the cherry on top was when I made two left pockets for the front.

    The snaps aren’t right for this jacket either! This fabric is too light for them and I should have chosen plastic snaps instead of metal ones. Therefore I didnt bother putting them down the front when I knew they’d be loose and either sag or entirely fall off. I might go back and add one to the hem though to keep the flap shut when it’s windy. It’s done, not perfect… and that’s fine by me.

    We took the jacket out for a walk in Silsden today as I really wanted to see one of the Stanza Stones. It’s a series of six poems by Simon Armitage carved into stone and placed at atmospheric or dramatic areas of natural beauty. Today we saw the Dew Stones. You can do the full trail to see them all in one go but we’re going to visit individually to stretch them out. Armitage’s work has always been a favourite of mine as his poems are unfussy and honest. Plus he’s from Yorkshire, so he’s a winner.

  • Other stuff

    Home made lampshades

    Hello everyone! Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. I know this blog is documenting my projects and there haven’t been many lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t missed it. I’ve been slowly getting back to normal and I’m excited to share a new make with you all.

    This blog post is brought to you in partnership with Need Craft and Dannells! One of things I thought I’d try for the new house is a spot of lampshade making. Given my love of gin, bottle lamps seemed like the perfect choice. They sent me two 25cm Empire Shade kits to test in exchange for a review. The plan is to use them as bedside table lamps in a Palm Springs inspired bedroom. 

    I’m using Rock Rose bottles, one of which is a special edition from my Craft Gin Club subscription. They have a beautiful coral pattern on the pottery bottles. And I picked up my lamp fixtures from eBay. Dannells sell bottle lamp conversion kits but I had a hankering to have one with a mid-wire switch rather than a bulb level switch.

    The kit includes everything you need apart from fabric. So I chose a Moda cotton called summer sweet sprinkle geranium from Empress Mills. This colourway is now sold out but there are some other cute shades. You can use pretty much any medium weight fabric which means you can match your curtains, use up old scraps or indulge in that luscious velvet you’ve been eyeing up.

    Everything comes together incredibly quickly. You adhere the PVC backing to your fabric, then add double sided tape to your hoops before rolling your shade together and tucking away the ends neatly. There’s even a handy tool included to press the ends into place.

    There’s a super helpful photo guide included with your kit. PLUS a handy video made by an old friend. And last but not least, this handy tip helped me get a super polished finish on the outside. To give a bit more height used 4″ shade carriers which prop your shade up higher, perfect to see more of my gin bottles! 

    They turned out so good. Jimi only gave them 9/10 but that’s because he said I didn’t choose fabric covered in my face. That would definitely be interesting… but I think these will go perfectly in the new room. Now I just need to move house! Once I’m in, I think I’ll make a few more shades. I’ve got a hankering to covering the inside as well as the outside. There’s always room for improvement right?

  • Dresses

    Not another New Look 6587

    I know, I know, I could possibly be stuck in a dress rut… but I don’t care. New Look 6587 is fast becoming one of those dresses that never turns out badly and I can always imagine another one!

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    As you know I haven’t really been sewing lately but I did want a birthday dress. And what could be better than ANOTHER LEMON DRESS?!? So for year 36 I made another version of my classic 90s pattern New Look 6587.

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    It’s the perfect dress because it isn’t tight but has enough shape and structure so I don’t feel like I’m wearing a sack. I can eat plenty without feeling uncomfortable and it fits me regardless of my fluctuating weight.

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

    It was a rather fun birthday weekend with an Italian 60s themed murder mystery and illusion spaghetti and meatballs chocolate cake on Friday, and then on Saturday a picnic in my favourite park in Ilkley! I managed to wear the dress on the morning of my birthday but by the time the picnic came around it was a bit too cold so I had to change out of it. But I wore it for a brief moment so it counts as a birthday dress!

    almond rock fabric shopping paris husband

    This delightful fabric was picked up during my visit to Paris earlier this year. There are pineapples, lemons and strawberries on it as well as botanical leaves. It’s a half artistic and half cheesy but I LOVE IT! It’s a medium weight stretch cotton. Almost denim weight! But that makes it so well structured and perfect for this dress. Perhaps a little warm for the heatwave and a little cold for the weird snap in the weather! But who cares it’s cute and I wore it for a nice walk through the local fields to see how the foals were getting on.

    I used navy bias around the neckline as a facing and added more of the plastic buttons from the navy lemons dress… I  still have about 80 of them left. Those patch pockets are the greatest too. Perfect phone and key size for going on walks!

    almond rock new look 6587 nl6587 fruit pineapples lemons vintage dressmaking sewing pattern

  • Dresses

    China blue McCall’s 6959 wrap dress

    Like many of us, the Covid situation threw me through a loop for a long time. I was home all the time, working from the spare room, I didn’t get out of my pyjamas many days, and barely wore makeup. And crafting? That was non-existent. In a way I’d lost my sense of identity – I wasn’t wearing or making home sewn clothes. But things are slowly starting to get better. It started with house viewings! Yes I had to wear gloves and masks, not touch anything and keep away from the estate agent as a I moved around but I had a reason to get dressed and get out the house. Then I went to an arm knitting blanket workshop at Fabricate.

    I’d already seen on social media how dedicated Philippa was being about safety and going to the shop didn’t disappoint; she had socially distant workbenches, it was a zero contact tutorial, hand sanitiser a-plenty and much more. It was liberating to get a taste of what life used to be like but with a new safety-first slant. This week I’m going for a beach side break in a private cottage to celebrate my wedding anniversary and I’m taking one of my prettiest dresses to wear for dinner.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This dress has it’s own story. At the beginning of the year I was contacted by Lindybop about doing a sponsored blog post. I received 3m of fabric and in exchange I was to write a guest blog post and do social media promotion when the dress was ready.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This stunning china blue porcelain print fabric features delicate florals on a spandex cotton base which they called crepe de chine. You can read my earlier comments on how it isn’t really ‘crepe de chine’ on my magpie dress blog post. But before I could write the blog post, Lindybop went into administration. They kindly messaged me and said to keep the fabric and wished me well.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    It’s rather sad, but the dress turned out so nicely that I’d like to still share it, even though it’s bittersweet. I made the McCall’s 5969 from Love Sewing mag 65 last year, one of my favourite issues (now out of stock). By merging View D with its modest wrap bodice and long sleeves with View B’s full circle skirt and sash tie, this dress becomes delightfully vintage with the right fabric.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    I shared my toile of the bodice on Instagram earlier in the year – thought you’d appreciate the flash of tummy above. A brief reminder of my measurements: 36″ A bust, 33″ waist, 45″ hips. I chose a size 10 in the upper body/bust/armholes, 12 waist and 14 waist/hips. I then slimmed the sleeve width down a little and ultimately, shortened their length. I also moved the bust darts slightly and added 2″ to the skirt hem.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    I’m  not risking any mishaps with this wrap… There are multiple press stud fasteners used to close the dress at each side seam and the neckline. The sash belt is then purely decorative. The mix of facings and my own use of bias binding for the skirt and sleeve hems feels complementary.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    This feels luxurious to wear because of the fabric. Plus it feels well drafted, as that sleeve head is lovely and the bodice has just enough ease for everyday movement without looking saggy. PLUS the swish of the circle skirt is, of course, fabulous. But that means it is also fabric hungry, requiring me to use almost all of my 3m.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    Wrap dresses used to make me so upset when I tried them on as everyone said they were universally flattering no matter your shape. But when I tried them on in shops all I saw was this lumpy figure with overemphasised stomach and hips, and no bust. Then I tried the Eve wrap dress with some success. But a wrap dress with a circle skirt? This is glorious for my body shape aka the human butternut squash.

    Almondrock cotton spandex, McCall's, m6959, McCall's 6959, wrap dress, vintage style

    Want to see more? How about Wendy’s version from the magazine. Or follow Rin’s gorgeous sewalong. At last but not least this STUNNING red Gucci Mindy Kaling inspired version by Serena.

  • Dresses

    Roar-some Tilly and The Buttons Seren dress

    Hello hello! It’s been a little while since I wrote on the blog. I’ve only been sewing a little lately but I thought I’d share this Seren dress I made last year.

    Almond fock tiger print stretch crepe midi Seren dress Tilly and the Buttons

    It’s been getting a fair bit of wear this Spring/Summer. The weather comes and goes but paired with a cardigan it looks rather cute. This is how I wore it during Me Made May.

    This dress was actually relegated to my wardrobe for the first year it was made. I made it too tight at the waist by taking it in too much and made the straps too wide. So earlier this year I dug it out, let out the seams and recut the straps.

    The fabric is a fun stretch crepe with white tigers lounging all over it. I wouldn’t recommend stretch fabrics for button down clothes unless they’re loose but I’m a renegade so I don’t take my own advice. I got it from Dalston Mill Fabrics who have an online shop of secret treasures like this.

    I use a loop turner to make straps and these made me scream bloody murder! In hindsight I should have move their position a little. For the covered buttons I love the contrast pop of yellow. They’re made in a similar weight yellow stretch crepe. I still have to make a dress from this crepe. Covered buttons are so polished and quite fun to make. I use a rubber tool to press the pieces together which you can see my tutorial for Love Sewing here.

    Almond fock tiger print stretch crepe midi Seren dress Tilly and the Buttons

    As a friend of the Tilly team I was kindly gifted the paper pattern with no obligations to promote but I love the dress so why wouldn’t I share. I made a size 4 but it was a little roomy under the armpits so I tinkered with the side seams as I mentioned. This is the plain bodice view without the waistband and the midi skirt.

    Almond fock tiger print stretch crepe midi Seren dress Tilly and the Buttons

    On single dart bodices I prefer them to be at the waist. I understand they couldn’t do that because of the tie front view. I could have moved the darts I suppose but pressed ahead regardless. The skirt is a great length if you don’t want to shave your legs properly and is lovely and swishy. Plus now it makes me think of of the show Tiger King.

    Have you made Seren? I’d love to know in the comments. Check out this stripey version from Malin, the Sewing Wife’s classic version and this beauty from Lena with ruffle straps!